From ‘Glory’ to ‘Malcolm X’ – The Ten Best Denzel Washington Performances and Why

01.06.16 1 year ago

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Denzel Washington will be awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award at this Sunday's Golden Globes, and as a result, we thought we'd look back at the ten films that I think best showcase his undeniable movie star charisma. Are these the ten best Denzel Washington films? The ten best Denzel Washington performances? It feels to us like it's hard to make a distinction between the two, since his best work occurs when people actually challenge him or give him something great to do.

There are some very solid films and performances that didn't make this list, like Courage Under Fire, Crimson Tide, 2 Guns, and Philadelphia, but we feel like we picked the ten movies that best exemplify why Washington has been electrifying audiences for 30 years now. Washington paid his dues in the early days, and I'm sure he'd be perfectly happy to just forget Carbon Copy or Heart Condition ever happened.

What I find interesting about his career overall is how he's played the game but on his own terms. He has a long-standing agreement with his wife about love scenes and what he will or won't do on-camera, and that's been one of the things that, intentional or otherwise, has defined his identity as a movie star. There's also that unflappable quality of his. Like Jimmy Stewart, Washington gains a lot of value from playing against his established persona on those occasions where he makes a film like Flight or Training Day, movies where he turns that innate decency on its head, making it a mask that hides something more malevolent.

So weigh in and let us know what you think of our ranking of these pictures, and use this space to share your own thoughts on Washington as a performer. And don't forget… he'll be onstage Sunday night to accept his special award.

The 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards airs on NBC at 5:00 PM PST on Sunday, January 10, 2016.

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